Football Running Back Walter Payton

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“I was born to Edward and Alyne Payton in Columbia, Mississippi on July 25, 1954. My father was a factory worker who had played semi-professional baseball. I was an active member of the Boy Scouts, Little League, and his local church. I attended John J. Jefferson High School where I played the drums in the marching band, participated in track, and sang in the school choir. During my first few years of high school I did not play football in order to avoid competition with my older brother Eddie.” He then continued on by saying, “However when Eddie graduated the coach of the football team asked me to try out for the team which I agreed to because he allowed me to remain playing in the band. I instantly achieved great success as a running back my junior year playing football. I may have not been the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but I had a heart so large that it felt like I could run through a brick barrier. I cared more than any player. My hard work did pay off because I did earn statewide honors as a member of Mississippi’s all-state team, leading our team to an 8-2 season.”

“I faced many set backs in life especially when I was going off to college. I received no offers from Southeastern Conference colleges and universities, which were only accepting only a few black players at the time. Instead, I followed in my brother Eddie’s footsteps and chose to play at Jackson State University. At Jackson State I rushed for more than 3,500 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. I also broke the NCAA’s scoring record by rushing for 65 touchdowns during my college career.” He then added, “At the end of my senior year I was selected for the All-American Team, named Black College Player of the Year, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. I acquired the nickname “Sweetness” in college, which stemmed from my personality and my aggressive graceful playing style.”
“My professional career first began in 1975 and I was eager to prove my talent and show the world what I was capable of. I was always looking to improve my performance throughout my career, which is why I broke several records in the NFL. I did much more than the average player, and I never missed any games in my thirteen seasons except when I had a little sprain and the coach sat me out even though I was dressed and ready to compete. My motto was “Never Die Easy”. My signature move was definitely the “stutter-step”, a high –stepping, irregularly paced run, and I was a big fan of the stiff-arm. However, what I am really known for is my ability to leap over opponents as a frog would do to capture a fly, sometimes landing on my head in the end zone.” He then went on saying, “After I would score I would decline to celebrate; instead, I would often hand the ball to my teammates or the official. I loved playing with fellow Bears such as, McMahon and Perry who was also known as the refrigerator due to his massive size. Winning Super Bowl XX in 1985 was by far the most surreal moment in my life. When our team was on the 2-yard line they did not give the ball to me. Instead, they gave it my buddy William Perry, which most fans disagreed with because I never scored a touchdown in the super bowl, however that was the best move for our team at that point in the game.” He continued, “I still helped propel my team to victory. It is all the small things that may not show up on a score sheet that make a difference in winning and losing. I was in disbelief when that clock hit 00.00 and all I could think about were the grueling hours spent training, working hard, and the amount of I time I put into football throughout my life. Then it hit me. Everything I did up to this point in my life has paid off and it was an indescribable feeling. I would not have wanted to be a part of any other team than the one I was on. I had a considerable amount of respect for my team, coaches, and the city of Chicago.” He summed up by stating, “Football and sports in general are a privilege in life and I was more than grateful I was able to excel at a sport that I had an unconditional love for.”





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